Movie Room: Devin Bush shows real signs of improvement in win over Bengals

Three games pre-season with few signs of improvement, fourth-year Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Devin Bush faced a torrent of criticism that entered the year of his contract with the Black and Gold, and that was the result of a disastrous 2021 season in his return from a knee injury.

During his three pre-season games, Bosch continued to appear momentarily, uninterested, as if going through the motions. Colleagues and coaches continued to express their confidence in him, much to the astonishment of many.

That belief turned out to have been justified in Bush’s first-week performance exit that put him against the Cincinnati Bengals on the road inside Baycor Stadium.

Granted, Bush was still down by Pro Football Focus with just 49.2 overall score in the first week, but the All-22 bar showed a linebacker willing to go down the slopes, mix it up with blockers and get into plays, confident in his eyes and He flows as he once did as a rookie after the Steelers made him the 10th overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.

In Sunday’s 51 tackles against the Bengals, Bush scored five tackles and was part of the Steelers’ defense that limited Joe Mixon in the ground game. While Bush is still under attack for having only made five tackles (two singles) on Sunday, much of what he did against Bengals won’t appear on the stat sheet. It’s that simple. However, he influenced a lot of plays, especially on the ground, communicated really well, and played confidently within the scheme.

This is a huge sign.

Let’s dive into the tape.

Bush’s biggest concern coming into the 2022 season was his struggles with the running game, specifically getting off the cliffs and getting off the blocks. While this is still a problem at times against the Bengals Sunday, there has been far more focus on his willingness to shoot the slopes and mix in with blockers, much more than what we saw from Bosch last season and pre-season.

Early on, I liked the way a half-man stayed against Cincinnati, Jonah Williams’ left tackle in the running game, using his hands to get in and get some leverage against the interference, allowing Bush to slip and occupy the Mixon’s running lane, eventually, Mixon turned inside once other to help.

Although Bush won’t get credit for tackling the play, it was a really solid start from a fundamental standpoint for his Sunday performance.

Against the Bengals, Bush seemed to trust his eyes to take him to football. He read his keys well and his feet matched his eyes, making him spin around the football a bit.

Here against escaping again, Bosch does a good job reading his keys and attacking downhill quickly. The only real concern I have with the rep is that he didn’t quite finish it. He loses a bit of aggressiveness once he sees wide receiver T Higgins coming for the block. While Bush does a good job of taking it and hitting Higgins in space, I would have liked to see him try to skip that block and do a play in general.

Still, it’s great to see him where he’s supposed to be, leading to Minkah Fitzpatrick’s big hit on Mixon for short wins, due in large part to Bosch’s healthy football stint.

This was one of my favorite plays from Bush in Sunday’s win. You can see him moving around before the snap as the Bengal changes things around him. He knows where he’s supposed to be and does a good job of reading the center and getting to the second Lele quickly to try and get to it.

The bush comes firmly to the point of contact and stuns the central part, allowing it to slide. He then runs through the extra trash to get to Mixon, and helps with stops with Miles Jack and Cameron Sutton. Often in those situations with Bush this hookman would swallow him, but he does a really good job of attacking the slopes and shooting off his hands, giving him some room to work.

Once again, Bosch’s eyes and ability to read keys on Sunday were truly intact. When he’s able to read and respond, he still has the ability to hover and reach spots faster than hurdles.

Shown here on this actor. He beats center Cincinnati in the spot on the outside, forcing Mixon to slow down and look for the cut. Still, Bush keeps his job, and is able to work back across the face of the center to stop off with Malik Reed for short wins.

This next play certainly won’t appear in the stats, but it’s important to Bush.

Late in the game, the Bengals tried to keep some balance with their running game. There is a huge gap opening between right guard Alex Capa and right tackle Lyle Collins as he runs down the hill against Bush. It does a good job filling the lane quickly while staying level with the line of scrimmage.

By filling the lane here, along with Chris Wormley pushing Cappa back into the Mixon, the Bush and Steelers defense are able to seal things up quickly, shutting down the play before it even begins.

Finally, late in the game, Bosch made a huge play that also wouldn’t appear on the stat sheet.

With Bengals facing a third and the goal touching a tie just yards in front of them, Bush detonated a shovel pass to lock in Hayden Hurst.

He doesn’t get credit for interfering at all, but his ability to read his keys and hit rookie guard Cordell Foulson on the inside forces Collins to try to recover and get the hand of Bush, who is on the right track. Connecting two bulkheads blocks the Hearst Pass, allowing Bosch’s colleagues to get there to stop.

One play later the Bengals had a turn in relegation as the Steelers’ defense stood tall. A lot of that had to do with Bush playing on the shovel trail.

Although he wasn’t on the field much in passing positions, being substituted out of the game for Robert Spillane, Bosch had two strong games in coverage on Sunday that should have received some praise.

The first came in the first half of a play that injured Cincinnati receiver T. Higgins.

The bush is in the middle and has nothing to go in. Although Higgins shoots for seven yards, Bush does a great job of connecting with his defensive back, passing Hurst off the field, and capturing Higgins on the crossover.

Once Joe Burrow gets out of the jeep to extend the play, Bush gets pushed a bit by Higgins but does a good job of recovering and back on the stage with Higgins, making the stop a bit sticky.

Later in the match in overtime, Bosch is matched with Samaje Perine returning at the border with the Bengals empty. This isn’t exactly an ideal location for a bush to be in, but it handles it perfectly.

Never upset, moving his feet and flipping his hips in time, he presses Beren into the sideline making it nearly impossible for Boro to complete the throw, which he doesn’t.

Overall, Bosch didn’t have many plays that figured out on the stat sheet, but the All-22 team revealed a real show of improvement from the fourth-year midfielder. Brian Flores’ influence looks like it’s starting to take over Bush, and that’s nothing but a huge positive influence on the Steelers going forward.